Love unlimited

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During the next four years, Rudy V would gain a devoted following in Houston with his sexy patter and soft heart. He also got some media attention after he talked two suicidal callers out of taking their lives in separate incidents.

Rudy V, Williams insists, is not an act. He genuinely cares. "I think people can feel when it's real -- when your art is real," he says. "When you're doing something with sincerity or when you're trying to put on a show."

He'd even do his show for free, he says, for the opportunity to touch people's lives, to pull back one lonely man from the brink of suicide.

"With every song I'm trying to leave some kind of musical, indelible impression," he says. "They say the average listener doesn't remember 15 minutes later what you said. That is absolutely crazy. I want them to remember whatever it is for the rest of their life."

"Rudy connects," Ken Dowe says. "In person or on the air, when you listen to Rudy, you have the idea that he is communicating with you directly. You can hear empathy. You can hear emotions. You can hear his feelings projected. And you can do that, be it on the air or in person."

Making that connection has taken time in Dallas, partly because KRNB's signal wasn't being picked up by many listeners. Now the station has added some juice to reach the masses -- 200 feet of radio tower, to be exact.

"The only reason he has not become a megastar in the Dallas-Fort Worth area," Dowe says, "is because, up until the first part of September, we have not had a radio station that had the technical facility to support him and his magnificent talent."

On December 13 at 10:15 p.m., Lionel Richie sings into the night: "Father, help your children. And don't let them fall by the side of the road."

Rudy V sees songs as stories and his role as storyteller, choosing the tale that fits the mood. If he's telling a story tonight, it is one of salvation. He plays back-to-back spiritual cuts: the Commodores' "Jesus Is Love," Howard Hewett's "Say Amen," and Brian McKnight's "My Prayer."

"If you just tuned in," he explains, "we received a call tonight from the family of a man who is considering taking his life. We have put in a page, and he has not called back...Quiet Storm community, just keep praying."

Earlier in the evening, a woman had called the station and told Rudy V she was worried about her 24-year-old cousin, Terry McBryant. McBryant had broken up with his fiancée, and he'd told his cousin he was thinking about taking his own life. At the time the cousin called KRNB, McBryant's family had been unable to locate the young man for hours.

Desperate, she remembered hearing McBryant call in to Rudy V's show a week before. She hoped that if the DJ paged her cousin, he'd call back.

Rudy V later explains that he paged McBryant several times with no response before deciding to take his campaign to the air. He pleads with McBryant to call KRNB and let him know he's OK.

For the next three hours, scores of listeners phone in, offering scriptures, phone numbers, and prayers. Rudy V plays music about breakups and starting over. The show seems cathartic for many listeners, who call in crying and offering testimonials of their own victories over suicidal tendencies.

"I thank God for a DJ like you," a woman sobs. "If he needs someone to talk to who knows what he's going through, I'll talk to him."

Suddenly -- and dramatically -- the young man calls the station. He is evasive about his whereabouts. He tells Rudy V on the air that he's driving home, and at the DJ's request gives two cross streets on his route. Then he quickly hangs up.

Recounting the story later in an Arlington coffee shop, Rudy V says those streets never cross -- something he learned from listeners' frantic calls. Sometime after 11 p.m., Rudy V implores them to stop calling. He wants to keep the lines open in case the young man calls back.

Another emotionally charged moment occurs when McBryant's ex-fiancée calls in to speak with Rudy V. "You don't know the whole story. See, you don't understand what he's done," she says. But she scarcely completes the sentence before Williams cuts her off. Temper flaring, he lashes back:

"Are you going to tell me that you're gonna sit back there and let that man talk about taking his life?" he asks in disgust, his voice rising. "It may be that he's the worst man in the world. I implore you to release all of your hurt and your pain."

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Felicia Mccarthy